Tuition, turmoil and rising tensions as students demand compensation

Written by Ed Morrison

As we enter the start of the New Year, it is clear that the reverberating effects of the virus are continuing to wreak havoc. With another national lockdown announced and available job opportunities limited, many are finding it tough to financially support themselves throughout this time.

This is most notable among our student demographic who, as a result of the pandemic, along with consecutive teacher strikes last academic year, have missed the equivalent of more than two full terms of teaching. Whilst online learning has been readily available this term, many have found the lack of additional support for those unable to attend these lessons to be inadequate at best. This has fuelled a growing sense of anger towards our University and is a bitter pill to swallow when considering the hefty £9250 price tag.

Some students, like Louis Delany (2nd year, History and International Relations), received £150 in compensation for the strike action following numerous emails to the University, but others have not been so lucky. Many were not even aware that the University were offering compensation at all.

But with the University sector expected to lose around £2.5 billion this year in tuition fees alone, along with the loss of 30,000 university jobs based on gloomy predictions of international and domestic students staying away from Covid, are we being too hard on our University to ask for payment for this lost tuition?

With the University of Leicester currently boasting a £500 million state investment programme, a small pay-out to its students to justify for the lack of contact hours over the last couple of semesters doesn’t sound too unreasonable. Moreover, it would abide by the University’s own Student Compensation and Refund Policy that states pay-outs would be made ‘where the University has not met adequate standards of education, support or service’.

In light of this, the lack of compensation has only worked to stoke the wider concerns of students that our University is now prioritising its profits over pupils, and the quality of student experience.

This is emphasised by Rebecca Clayton (3rd year, American Studies) who claims that the ongoing virus has only added to the financial strain imposed on her by the lack of money she received for the six weeks of strikes in her second year Christmas term – demonstrating “a pretty clear lack of support” by the University.

“Most second and third years are still having to pay rent and bills for accommodation they’re no longer in, so having money back to pay for this, for example, would be a light relief on the stress of many,” she said.

In all, there is a pretty clear consensus that students are getting increasingly frustrated and angry at the lack of financial support our University is willing to offer. However, hope is not lost, with the growing ‘tuition fee campaign’ being organised by our Student Union president Mia Nembhard for later this month, there is still a chance for more positive news on this issue going forward – so watch this space.

LSM reached out to Vice Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah for a comment on this issue but has yet to hear back.

Ed Morrison is a final year student and football enthusiast from the University of Leicester. Being a devout Arsenal fan, he is prone to the odd panic attack and regularly throwing things at his TV. Despite living with Fijian tribes and travelling the southern hemisphere, Ed still struggles to find his house keys on a daily basis. You can find him on Instagram here: @eddymorrison1.

To contribute to the Students’ Unions tuition fee survey, click here. Have your say. Closes Monday 11th January 2021.

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University of Leicester's Student Magazine

Leicester Student Magazine

University of Leicester's Student Magazine

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